07 SES 03 A, Intercultural Education
Contemporary society confronts a confounding combination of challenges. Mass movements of populations have changed the racial, ethnic, religious and cultural profiles of cities, impacted on economies, and altered social life. Combined with anxiety about terrorism and the continuity of national and cultural identities, these conditions have fueled a rise in nativism, xenophobia, racism and hostility to diversity and minorities (see Besley & Peters 2012). In Europe, such trends have been solidified by the growth and institutionalization of right-wing, popularist political parties since 2000. These advocate a nativist ideology, restrictive immigration policies, openly hostile rhetoric against immigrants (Eiermann, Mounk, Gultchin, 2017, p. 15), and claim to represent ‘the true will of a people against domestic elites, foreign migrants, or ethnic, religious or sexual minorities (2017, p. 4).
The same trends can be seen in other democratic, multicultural societies such the USA, UK, Australia, as well as in Asia. The impact on the inclusion of minority students and their consequent social and economic chances for ‘the good life’ is already evident. For example, it is evident in teachers and principals’ negative attitudes towards minority students (Halse, et al. 2015; Hue & Kennedy, 2013), the failure of teachers and schools to implement intercultural curriculum (Cairns, 2018), and the persistence of racism among students and teachers in schools (Halse, 2017; Halse et al 2015).
At the same time, there is continuing academic debate about multiculturalism vs interculturalism as a basis for policies and practices for diversity and inclusion. To data, the education scholarship has focused on the origins and history of multiculturalism and interculturalism in different contexts (e.g. Holme & Zilliacus, 2009). Extending this work, our paper draws on the literature from education and the social sciences to analyze the similarities and differences between multiculturalism and interculturalism as theories and modes of practice, and their relative merits for addressing inclusion for minorities in an era of increasing right-wing popularism. To broaden the inclusion of international perspectives in European dialogue, we also considersinsights from scholars in Asia -a major geo-political centre where two-thirds of the world’s population live.
Our paper addresses two research questions:
- What are the similarities and differences between multiculturalism and interculturalism as theories and modes of practice?
- What is their respective potential for supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in a context of increasing right-wing popularism?
This paper is theoretically positioned in a framework of critical pragmatism. This framework draws particularly on Deegan (1988) who defines critical pragmatism as ‘a theory of science that emphasizes the need to apply knowledge to everyday problems based on radical interpretations of liberal and progressive values’ (p.26). The literature to address RQ1 was generated through a systematic search of education and social science data bases using the key words multiculturalism and interculturalism and multiculturality and interculturality. Abstracts were reviewed and publications that did not address the research question excluded. Data for RQ2 were generated from the historical literature, news reports of events in Europe, the USA, Asia, and Australia, complemented by published expert analyses (e.g. Eiermann et al 2017). Consistent with our theoretical framework, inductive, theoretical critique guided our analysis and conclusions.
Multiculturalism is constructed in a human rights framework that affirms the cultural distinctiveness and political equality of minorities. It is firmly committed to liberal democratic principles, promotes cultural pluralism, political equality, and seeks to reconstruct societies to achieve full democratic rights for all peoples (Banks, 2004). Its focus on the majority-minority binary is underpinned by attention to nationhood but it has been criticized for excessive attention to and celebration of outward displays of intergroup differences. In contrast, interculturalism attends to the possibilities for a mutually constructed culture based on social and cultural contacts between majority and minority groups. It downplays populist narratives and nationhood, and focuses on interpersonal contact, dialogue and understanding between different groups. For these reasons, the Council of Europe and UNESCO have adopted interculturalism as the strategy for moving beyond cultural diversity to an inclusive politics that reduces racial and social inequalities, inequities and exclusions. Levrau & Loobuyck (2013) see multiculturalism and interculturalism as compatible, with the former a precondition for intercultural dialogue; Modood (2017) says interculturalism already exhibits features of multiculturalism; Kylimcka (2016) considers the debate political rhetoric. Interculturalism holds the greatest promise as a strategy for supporting diversity, improving minorities’ position and inter-ethnic relations, and facilitating inclusion and equity. However, the aspirational goals of interculturalism require a moral social compass, and they are unlikely to be achieved without wide social action against racism, prejudice, and the privileging of self-interest over the social good. This task will involve more than, for example, school integration programs, diversity training or civic education. It requires concerted social action (see Banks, 2004) to communicate the message of interculturalism, and the support of global initiatives, akin the effective social media campaigns #noracism and ‘Say no to racism’ campaigns.
Banks, J. A. (2004). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J.A. Banks & C. McGee Banks (Eds.) Multicultural Education. Issues and Perspectives (pp. 3- 29). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Besley, T., & Peters, M. A. (2012). Interculturalism: Education and dialogue. New York: Peter Lang. Cairns, R. Unpublished PhD, 2018. Deegan, M.J. (1988) Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School, 1892-1918. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books. Eiermann, M., Mounk, Y., Gultchin, L. (2017). European popularism: trends, threats, and future prospectis. London: Institute for Global Change. Accessed 31 January 2018 from: https://institute.global/insight/renewing-centre/european-populism-trends-threats-and-future-prospects# Halse, C. (2017). Responsibility for racism in the everyday talk of secondary students. Discourse: Cultural Studies in the Politics of Education, 38(1), 2-15. Halse, C. et al. (2015). Doing diversity: Intercultural understanding in primary and secondary schools. Melbourne: Deakin University. Holme, G. & Zilliacus, H. (2009). Multicultural education and intercultural education: Is there a difference? In M. Talib, J. Loima, H. Paavola & S Patrikainen (Eds.), Hue, M. T., & Kennedy, K. J. (2013). Creating culturally response environments: Ethnic minority teachers’ constructs of cultural diversity in Hong Kong secondary schools. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 34(3), 273-287. Levrau, F., & Loobuyck, P. (2013). Should interculturalism replace multiculturalism? Ethical Perspectives, 20(4), 605-630. Meer, N., & Modood, T. (2011). How does Interculturalism Contrast with Multiculturalism? Journal of Intercultural Studies, 33(2), 175-196. Modood, T. (2017). Must interculturalists misinterpret multiculturalism. Comparative Migration Studies, 5(15), 1-17.
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